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Parc Ex’s Flavourful New Vietnamese Nook Scores First Rave Review

And a Plateau French classic earns a showering of stars

Taro dumplings
Facebook/Denise

La Presse critic Marie-Claude Lortie is at petite Parc-Extension Vietnamese newcomer Denise this week — it’s the first time the new Beaumont Avenue nook has earned a critic’s write-up, and Lortie’s take on it is pretty superb. It starts promisingly when co-owner Khoa Le reshuffles the full restaurant to make room for Lortie (who didn’t have a reservation) and only gets better as plates arrive: betel leaf-wrapped beef laden with cilantro, mint, and basil is her hot tip, but rice paper rolls fare well too, most notably for the sauce, emulsifying ginger and pineapple into fish sauce, and prompting Lortie to scrape the bowl clean. Among the bigger plates, the bun bo huê beef noodle soup is a comforting dish, elevated by mouth-melting beef slices; it’s only the dessert of pandan leaf tapioca that disappoints, with Lortie remarking that it’s a little light on flavour. But it’s a tiny tarnish on an top-notch restaurant experience, all up. [La Presse]

Café Cherrier/Official

At Le Devoir (which has a neat new website design), critic Jean-Philippe Tastet is at Plateau French stalwart Café Cherrier, finding the French brasserie as good as ever — along the lines of Lesley Chesterman’s review last year which declared that (contrary to its reputation), Cherrier is far from a tourist trap. Tastet puts his restaurant scene doyen hat on to lament the perpetual focus on newness in the restaurant scene, praising the intemporalité of Cherrier, although noting that (perhaps disappointingly) it draws a notably older crowd, lacking a trendy reputation to draw younger crowds. But in straightforward dishes like an apple boudin and guinea fowl terrine, chef Christian Darroman still shines. The food respects the principles of French cuisine “to the letter”, and it’s served with a high degree of professionalism. The salmon tartare is the only flop: “bland and uninteresting” — but there’s lots to love, earning Cherrier four stars. [Le Devoir]

Facebook/Restaurant Mélisse

Finally, Gazette critic Lesley Chesterman is at new-ish Cité-du-Multimédia day and night spot Mélisse, open since last summer. With a short digression observing the marked trend away from formal dining spots, Chesterman observes that what this means is that fantastic meals crop up more and more in casual or unlikely settings, and that’s the case here. The décor is rather chic Los Angeles (“you could imagine Jennifer Aniston types drinking Smartwater [here]”), and chef Bertrand Giguère’s comes across as both refined and comforting. A grilled Argentine shrimp/roast tomato entrée is “summery” and “brilliant”, while barbecue sauce glazed pork ribs serve up “forkfuls of the most succulent pork imaginable”. A boudin with parsley root, fried leeks, and apple is so good that it should prompt “haters” of the bloody dish to reconsider their opinions. Minus some overly firm and rich mashed potatoes, the meal seems mostly flawless, right down to slightly unusual desserts that work against the odds — take the white chocolate cream with marinated pineapple and a Breton cookie. All up, a tidy three stars. [Montreal Gazette]

Café Cherrier

3635 Rue Saint-Denis, Le Plateau-Mont-Royal, QC H2X 3L6 (514) 843-4308 Visit Website

Denise

386 Avenue Beaumont, Villeray—Saint-Michel—Parc-Extension, QC H3N 1T4 (514) 664-4637 Visit Website

Restaurant Mélisse

719 Rue William, Ville-Marie, QC H3C 1N9 (514) 379-3794 Visit Website

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